Since its passage into law nearly four weeks ago, the North Carolina legislation House Bill 2 (HB2) has caused the state a considerable amount of trouble. The bill, which mandates that transgender individuals use restrooms in accordance with their gender assigned at birth, nullifies protections in LGBT employment and allows for discrimination based on sexual orientation, has been the target of severe backlash from critics both in and out of state.
In response to criticisms, Gov. Pat McCrory has passed an executive order on HB2, which allows control over private businesses and local governments in their employment and bathroom policies, but keeps the most controversial tenets of HB2 practically intact.
The order does not answer the numerous claims of discrimination against transgender and gay people imposed by the bill, but instead seems to be trying to lessen the impact. Still, contrary to many voices who have unequivocally condemned Gov. McCrory for passing HB2 and failing to properly take accountability for the backlash, I choose to believe that his executive order represents a sense of progress that should not be neglected outright.
McCrory’s executive order may have failed to silence critics of HB2, but the fact that he was willing to consider amendments or clarifications to the original bill at all is indicative that the voice of dissent can have a significant influence on the regulations of our society.
McCrory’s response may not have been fueled only by ideological criticisms of HB2, but its financial repercussions as well. Multiple high-profile companies and entertainers have recently distanced themselves from North Carolina in the aftermath of HB2, costing the state thousands, possibly even millions, of dollars in revenue.
This ongoing drama shows that if we disagree with those in power, our freedom to protest is not merely some arbitrarily given right — it represents a real opportunity to make differences for the better in our community. Perhaps this executive action is only the beginning in a succession of changes to the original bill. Perhaps eventually Gov. McCrory will realize that he needs to confront the controversy in order to overcome it.
The most uncompromising critics will likely not stop protesting HB2 until its complete and total repeal, which unfortunately seems rather unlikely at this point in time. However, we should not interpret this executive order as the final word on HB2. Rather, we should be ready to buckle down and keep moving forward.